Court rejects Trump's request to delay his April 15 hush money trial

Former US president Trump at a hearing on a criminal case linked to a hush money payment in New York City. (Photo/Reuters Archive)

A New York court has rejected Donald Trump's bid to delay his April 15 hush money criminal trial while he fights to move the case out of Manhattan — foiling the former president’s latest attempt to put off the historic trial.

Justice Lizbeth Gonzalez of the state’s appeals court made her ruling on Monday after an emergency hearing where Trump's lawyers asked to postpone the trial indefinitely while they seek a change of venue. Trump was seeking an emergency stay, a court order that would prevent the trial from starting on time.

The hush money trial is the first of Trump's four criminal indictments slated to go to trial and would be the first criminal trial ever of a former president.

Trump lawyer Emil Bove argued that the presumptive Republican nominee faces “real potential prejudice” as a defendant in heavily Democratic Manhattan. Citing defense surveys and a review of media coverage, Bove argued that jury selection, scheduled to start next Monday, "cannot proceed in a fair manner."

Trump has suggested on social media that the trial should be moved to Staten Island, the only New York City borough he won in 2016 and 2020.

Steven Wu, appellate chief for the Manhattan district attorney's office, noted that trial Judge Juan M. Merchan had already rejected Trump's requests to move or delay the trial as untimely.

Presidential immunity claims

In a separate appellate matter, Trump's lawyers are also challenging a gag order imposed on him in the case, which Merchan recently expanded to prohibit Trump from making comments about the judge’s family. The appeals court signaled it would take up that matter at a later date.

Trump had pledged to appeal after Merchan ruled last month that the trial would begin April 15. His lawyers had pleaded to delay the trial at least until summer to give them more time to review late-arriving evidence from a prior federal investigation into the matter.

Trump is accused of falsifying his company’s records to hide the nature of payments to his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who helped him bury negative stories during his 2016 campaign. Cohen’s activities included paying adult actor Stormy Daniels $130,000 to suppress her claims of an extramarital sexual encounter with Trump years earlier.

Trump pleaded not guilty last year to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. He has denied having an affair with Daniels. His lawyers argue the payments to Cohen were legitimate legal expenses.

Trump's move Monday is the latest escalation in his battles with Merchan.

Trump assailed the judge on social media after he imposed a gag order last month barring Trump from making public statements about jurors, witnesses and others connected the case. After Trump's complaints, Merchan expanded the gag order to include members of his own family.

Last week, Trump renewed his request for the judge to step aside from the case, citing Merchan's daughter's work as the head of a firm whose clients have included his rival President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and other Democrats.

Merchan last week rejected his request to delay the trial until the US Supreme Court rules on presidential immunity claims he raised in another of his criminal cases.


Source: TRT